For years HR professionals have been working to claim their rightful place in the leadership team of the business. But even for those who have succeeded, HR is still often seen as ‘just’ talent management or people-related process executors for line managers, who ‘really’ run the business.
To achieve HR functions that can deliver their full contribution, it is critical that companies start re-thinking HR and re-drawing the boundaries of where HR fits within the business.
There is still a widespread belief that if you want to run, or be in the business, you first have to get out of HR.
Despite this widely-held assumption, HR is not merely a supplement to a business. The success of any business is underpinned by the role HR plays in the business. It may be with the emergence of AI and the gig economy, in the organisation of the future strategic HR functions are going to become much more of a commercial imperative.
With many organisations falling short in their approach to HR, it’s time businesses view the function and role of HR very differently, but where should businesses start?
- Reframing collective assumptions
When HR is distanced from the commercial functions of the business, the solutions and recommendations made by HR are unable to be effectively implemented. When HR decisions are not held with the same regard as others in the business leadership team, it is difficult to establish an equal sense of valuing throughout the organisation.
The challenge for businesses will be to reframe this collective assumption, reframe the role of HR and recalibrate where HR is positioned within the organisation.
- Repositioning where HR sits in business ecosystem
HR functions are deeply embedded within and throughout the business. However, many executives fail to recognise the vital role HR play in the running of the business.
Resetting the position of where HR sits within the business ecosystem is not a quick fix. It requires a complete reset of HR and non-HR roles and how they relate to one and other, with regard to the people, organisational and business imperatives.
- Establishing mutual accountability and co-creation
Placing HR in a position that aligns in a more symmetrical way to those in the business leadership team would create mutual accountability.
There is sometimes a misconception that HR professionals hold sole accountability for the people and culture of the business, and that they are not accountable for the commercial outcomes of business performance. However, this is definitely not an accurate assumption. Non-HR executives should hold co-accountability for the people and culture agenda in their teams and the wider organisation, as HR should be co-accountable for the commercial performance of the organisation.
Businesses must shift these deep-rooted assumptions to best equip themselves with the capacity to holistically approach organisational challenges.
- Understanding role-relatedness
It is important businesses recognise how different roles relate with one another within the overall system. An understanding of this role interrelatedness is necessary in facilitating a shift away from HR being a “service provider” and “order taker”, to HR being real partners in the business enabling commercial outcomes for the business with other functions.
To reach these solutions, businesses must acknowledge the complex web and patterns of interrelating between the members or parts of the organisation, the roles that they play in collaboration and how these need to change and adapt constantly to meet changing contexts.
Joan Lurie is Director of Orgonomix which is the leading Systemic Change, Organisational Strategy, and Leadership Development organisation in Australia. Working with CEO’s of some of the country’s largest business, Orgonomix uncovers and implements ground-breaking systemic changes, reframes roles and assumptions, and repatterns organisations for new ways of operating to achieve higher order functioning and performance.
About the author
Joan Lurie, CEO of Orgonomix